Home » E! News’ Anchor Justin Sylvester

E! News’ Anchor Justin Sylvester

Being a reality TV star is not for the faint of heart!

by Lawrence Ferber
Justin Sylvester on the Set of E!

Being a reality TV star is not for the faint of heart! I’ve been offered many shows [since then] but I would never do it again, because I’m just not built that way.

Justin Sylvester on the Set of E! (Photo by NBCU E!)

When Justin Sylvester was hired as an assistant by The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills actress and socialite Kyle Richards, he expected to be a strictly off-camera presence in her life.

Yet that gig led to not only a career as a delightful reality TV presence, but also as the up front and center host of the rebooted E! News, which launched in November 2022 after a two-year absence. Dishing up a delightful nightly helping of pop culture and entertainment news with co-host Adrienne Bailon-Houghton, the openly gay Sylvester previously co-hosted E!’s daytime show Daily Pop, and made regular appearances on TODAY with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager.

During a juicy, delightful phone call, the Louisiana-raised, L.A.-based Sylvester opened up to PASSPORT about his career, personal life (he’s currently “single AF”), how he fares on gay apps, posting thirst photos on his Instagram (@justinasylvester), celeb dish about the likes of Jennifer Lopez (he made a cameo as himself in her 2022 movie Marry Me), who he’d most like to interview, and of course travel.

Justin Sylvester (Photo by NBCU E!)

Justin Sylvester (Photo by NBCU E!)

You were named one of the OUT 100 in 2021, and last year on TODAY you talked about being a black gay man and how you wished someone had told you being different is OK while growing up in the small town of Breaux Bridge Louisiana because it would have made a huge difference for you. What was your dream future as a kid?
Just to literally marry someone. I wanted to be married to someone important and support somebody who made a difference. Now it’s so crazy to be the one to make a small difference, but it’s a difference.

How exactly did your reality TV breakthrough with Housewives happen?
I worked for Kyle Richards for five years, but never in a million years thought it would lead to something in front of the camera. I thought I would be personal assistant to an actress or TV personality, and I actually had no idea what she did until I showed up at her house on the first day of work and she was filming the show. So it was kind of fate that led us together. I was there from season 1-5, and you actually don’t see me that much because I hid from the camera. I didn’t want her to think I was only there to be on the show. I was there to support her and her family.

What’s a secret about reality TV that you learned while being part of it?
That it’s much harder than people imagine. It looks like all they do is go to lunch and travel for free and film a fight here and there, but it’s a really emotionally exhausting process because you film the show for three or four months, then do interviews for another month, then have to watch and support the show while it airs, and see what people are saying about you on social media. Being a reality TV star is not for the faint of heart! I’ve been offered many shows [since then] but I would never do it again, because I’m just not built that way.

Adrienne Bailon-Houghton andJustin Sylvester on the Set of E! (Photo by NBCU E!)

Adrienne Bailon-Houghton and
Justin Sylvester on the Set of E! (Photo by NBCU E!)

Now you’re on the other side, spilling tea and reportage on reality TV and just about every other aspect of pop culture, has there ever been a story you covered that made you drop your jaw?
I think when I was on Daily Pop hearing that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were divorcing, because we always assumed those people would be together forever and that fire and passion would live on. And anybody who heard the Armie Hammer saga…that was just unbelievable. Insanity.

Do you see Armie making a comeback?
Look, if Armie was a woman and did this I would definitely say not a chance, but I have seen men come back from crazier things.

Do you hear a lot of juicy stories that you don’t report on because they’re unverified, but you so wish you could?
Yes, we hear so many things and get so many tips. I’ve learned that with a celebrity scandal story, the facts are always 90% inflated. When you dig down to the core of the truth the real story isn’t as good.

Who do you most love to report on?
For me, Kelly Ripa is always really fun, because she and her husband Mark Consuelos are great sports, they don’t take themselves too seriously, so anything about Kelly or Mark is fun for me.

J Lo at the Grammy Awards (Photo by Kathy Hutchins)

J Lo at the Grammy Awards (Photo by Kathy Hutchins)

Does J. Lo have the best skin in Hollywood?
Why stop at skin? The skin, the body, the work ethic, the woman has it all, she even smells rich. It is crazy. She is hot as can be and is always early (which I can’t say about a lot of people in Hollywood), always ready to play, and always gives you everything you want in an interview. She knows she’s J. Lo and that you’re freaking out and she makes you feel comfortable in your space.

Who is your dream interview at this point?
Meghan Markle. There are a lot of things about her life that people have questions about, and having a place like E! News where we are welcoming, understanding, and transparent would give her a place to really explain herself and talk without judgment, and I think we’d have a fun time.

You’re great with on the fly wit and humor. Would you like to be a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
I don’t think RuPaul even knows who I am, and you need to be a big celebrity to be a judge. I’m not there yet. I’m close. So I would love to be a judge, I just don’t think I’m famous enough. Please put that in there!

When and where was the most surprising place that someone has recognized you?
When looking homeless at the airport with a [protective] mask on. When I had a mask on during COVID was the only time I ever got recognized. I could be walking through the airport with an E! News sweatshirt, my face visible, and nobody will stop me, but if I have a mask on and some sort of matching pajamas to fly in people will stop me to ask, ‘aren’t you the guy from E! News?’ It’s really weird.

You post some shirtless “thirst trap” photos on your Instagram. Do you get a lot of thirsty comments or direct messages as a result?
Only from straight women who want to hook me up with their gay sons or besties or hairstylists. But nobody ever sends me a dirty DM and I’m really upset about it! I work really hard on my body and take damn good care of my skin and post the thirstiest photos I can under NBC guide lines. I don’t know. I think gay men like mystery, and the last six years being on E! I’ve given maybe too much information about myself, because I’ve been so transparent about my life and my shortcomings and that vulnerability scares people a little bit.

Do you put yourself on gay apps like Grindr while traveling?
I’m on Hinge, and if I’m going on a trip I’ll change my location to that place a week before I go to see the response. In smaller towns, I’m a hit. If I could live in Boise I’d be married by now. If I was in Nashville I’d be in a throuple, apparently. It’s the big cities that don’t really respond, but I’ve known I’m an acquired taste and my [future] husband’s palate will have to be extremely refined. Let me tell you something, though, when my toe steps on Italian soil, I’m like Queen Elizabeth.

What are some of your favorite vacation destinations?
Mykonos is one of my favorite spots in the world because I like to get my day drink on and love a day party. I love the sense of community in a day party and that people are willing to share and have fun, and it’s much more festive. Mykonos has really embraced that culture and you know if I’m there I’m having the time of my life between one and eight P.M.

On holiday in Italy (Photo by Justin Sylvester)

On holiday in Italy (Photo by Justin Sylvester)

What about places you haven’t been yet but are dying to go to?
Marbella, Spain. I’m also dying to go to Jerusalem. I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school and bible study weekly, and as a dormant Catholic my dream was to get baptized in the river Jordan, so I’m going to do that. I really want to go to Alaska. I’m going to see the Northern Lights for my birthday. It’s something you always read about in science books. Another one on my bucket list is to go on safari. I have to see elephants in person. Since watching Babar as a kid, and I know it’s a cartoon, I had a fascination with elephants and how they care for their young and the beauty of it, but I’m waiting for the right person to come into my life because I feel that’s something you need to share with someone. I want to experience that with my husband or children. If I’m going to spend the $50,000 I’m going to need somebody else to see it, OK?

What do you always travel with?
Oh my god. Olga Lorencin makes this product called the Red Carpet Facial, it’s in a box, and it’s the best thing. On vacation you can’t bring all your products, but it’s easy and makes you feel like a million bucks. Another thing is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Coconut Hydrate Body Oil. I’m not getting paid for this, I’m just really obsessed, because you can do from head to toe with it. They sell it at CVS for like $2.55, so if you don’t use it all you can just leave it there. And motherfucking baby wipes because you never know when you’re going to need to freshen up on the go. You’ve got to be ready for everything.

Speaking of being ready for anything, any advice or hacks for travelers?
The first thing I would tell people is even if you have the money to splurge on a nice hotel, don’t. You don’t spend any time there, you don’t really get your money’s worth. I always spend less on the hotel and more on things I can experience. The second is try to travel alone. What I like to do is go to places 2-3 days before a friend comes and meets me, because it gives me a chance to really put myself out there, even if it’s just being alone in my thoughts or taking things in or doing the selfish things I know other people won’t want to. And never go where everyone else is going. If you see it on Instagram, don’t do it. Nine times out of ten those locations up their price because they know people are coming. Try to discover places that aren’t on the map yet, because a lot of times you’ll get twice as much for your dollar as in places everyone else seems to be going.

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